Special Officer Richard D. "Dick" Hamilton

Special Officer Richard D. "Dick" Hamilton

Port Arthur Police Department, Texas

End of Watch Saturday, December 11, 1920

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Richard D. "Dick" Hamilton

Officer Richard D. (Dick) Hamilton worked at the Gulf Refinery as a foreman. He was appointed as a special police officer by Port Arthur Police Chief Pete Williams.

On November 3, 1920, Officer Hamilton went to the electrical shop of Oscar Spence to arrest him on a warrant for burglary. Hamilton declared that when he informed Spence that he had come after him, Spence opened a drawer of his desk and drew a gun. Hamilton then fired six shots in rapid succession. Spence ran into the street and collapsed. He died shortly afterwards at the hospital.

Around 8:00 p.m., on December 11, 1920, Hamilton was driving home from a picture show with his wife, three children and a sister. Two men in an automobile pulled alongside Hamilton and one man leaned out of the window and fired a blast from a 12-gauge shotgun. Hamilton, who was driving, fell over into his wife’s arms. A load of No. 6 buckshot, which caused the officer’s death, entered in the back under the left shoulder blade some of the shot making an exit on the right breast. The shot, which killed Hamilton, was fired at close range, the officer's clothing being burned and a large hole torn in his back. Hamilton’s car swerved into the curbing of the sidewalk, smashed the right front wheel, and nearly overturned.

Hamilton was buried in the Greenlawn Cemetery in Port Arthur next to his father who died in 1919 and his mother who had died in 1918. Hamilton was survived by his wife, Josie, and three children - Ruth Evelyn and Vivian - one brother, Archie Hamilton of Beaumont, a sister, Mrs. C. G. Land, and two nephews, James and John Land of Port Arthur.

Ralph F. Spence, 21 years old, brother of Oscar Spence, who was shot and killed on November 3 by Officer Hamilton, was arrested in Beaumont shortly after the shooting. Spence had rented the automobile and the driver was later released claiming he did not know Spence intended to kill Hamilton. Spence was charged with the murder but the trial produced a hung jury and he was never re-tried.


  • Age 37
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Shotgun; 12 gauge
  • Offender Ralph Spence

Most Recent Reflection

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Officer Hamilton,
On today, the 100th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Port Arthur.


United States Border Patrol

December 11, 2020

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